05 May 2007

Boomer Bashing

Crowded as the bandwagon may be getting, it's still difficult to resist jumping aboard. I remember reading years ago how the baby boomers would become even more unpopular than they were once the time neared to start cashing in on Social Security and Medicare. Sure enough, a new Era Of Bad Feeling is overtaking the younger taxpaying generations just about on schedule.

A better than average sample of the boomer-bashing genre can be found in last week's SF Weekly article by Martin Kuz, combining hard facts and invective into a delightful cocktail of abuse. It does go on a bit, at least compared with Frank Portman's succinct dismissal of "The Most Annoying Generation," later acronymized as TMAG, but gets the job done nonetheless. It had me riled up, even though I've been slagging off the boomers since the mid-1980s and wouldn't have thought there was a whole lot of opprobrium to be heaped on them that I hadn't already taken a stab at heaping.

Then there's the oft-remarked upon blogsite DieBoomerDie, worth a visit if only for the list of links to other boomer-related sites, most but not all hostile. You begin to get the impression that the generation born between 1946 and 1964, whether or not it's the most annoying in history, is certainly the most hated.

It's easy to understand why, too, at least among younger people. After all, they're the ones who've had to listen to the boomers' sanctimonious prattle while growing up in the social, political and cultural wreckage left by a selfish and self-obsessed cohort of aging acidheads. But what explains my antipathy toward what is, like it or not, my own generation?

That's an especially pertinent question considering how avidly I once embraced the worst excesses of the baby boomers: massive drug abuse, a distorted, hugely magnified sense of self-importance, opposition to all authority, doing whatever I could, albeit from a rather lazy and perspective, to undermine the fundamental structures of society. Looking at it in that light, I suppose my response today is at least partially one of guilt, or, thinking in more constructive terms, trying to undo a bit of the harm I participated in.

And maybe I'm deluding myself, but my impression that the generations that have followed in the wake of the boomers are, on average, more intelligent - even if only in the sense of being willing to admit that they don't know everything - and responsible (well, apart from those who've been encouraged/enabled to live rent-free in Mom or Dad's house ad infinitum, often because it's the only way M or D can obtain a captive audience for their boring stories about how we stopped the Vietnam War and invented sex and brought civil rights into existence while all the while being blitzed out of our minds on powerful psychedelics that of course the younger generation shouldn't take because they aren't, you know, as together as we were, blah blah blah.

Geez, I'm getting worked up about it all over, which is not a good sign. Could I be becoming as obsessed with rampant boomerism as the rest of my generation, only from a negative rather than a fawningly positive standpoint? If so, I'd better leave it there, thought not without a final word of warning to any younger readers who might still be tempted to romanticize the 60s: don't. They sucked. Bad fashions, bad hair, smelly, obnoxious people rolling around in the mud and listening to music rendered palatable only by staggering doses of mind-distorting drugs, and constantly ranting like homeless derelicts about how they were going to save the world and abolish money and build spaceships to colonize new planets that would be just like Earth only better because, you know, everyone would be high and enlightened and love one another.

Trust me, you're much better off living in today's world, boomer wreckage and all. And if you can only muster up enough votes to shut down Medicare and Social Security, we'll start dying off in droves and finally leave you alone. Or, less drastically, raise the retirement age to at least 70 or 75, and maybe we'll be too busy working to do quite so much yapping.

1 comment:

samuel said...

For what it's worth, to this early '70's born guy, the whole space colonization part is the only part that really pisses me off. Now I get to miss it and be old and scared of it when my own kids and grandkids are buzzing other planets in their souped up space hot rods.